Newt Gingrich is the latest Republican to discuss his reaction to President Barack Obama’s re-election, telling Matt Lauer on the “Today” show that he was “dumbfounded” by the win. But his latest advice to Republicans may have some people surprised.
During a Monday appearance on the daytime show, the former House speaker and 2012 presidential candidate said that while the election results initially caught him off guard, he and the rest of the country needed to accept the outcome.
"We need to stop, take a deep breath and learn," said Gingrich. "The president won an extraordinary victory. And the fact is, we owe him the respect of trying to understand what they did and how they did it."
"But,” he added, “if you had said to me three weeks ago Mitt Romney would get fewer votes than John McCain, and it looks like he'll be 2 million fewer, I would have been dumbfounded."
Just one day before Americans stepped into the polls to vote in the national election, Gingrich made an appearance on the Fox News show “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” where he predicted that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney would win in a landslide.
Gingrich used stark imagery to differentiate the two campaigns, contrasting Obama’s “mechanical machine” – a phrase lifted from the New York Times – against the “organic enthusiasm” generated by Romney.
“My experience in politics is organic enthusiasm, the whole wave effect, always beats the mechanics,” Gingrich said, referring to Obama’s campaign. "My personal guess is you'll see a Romney landslide, 53 percent-plus ... in the popular vote, 300 electoral votes-plus,” said Gingrich.
He envisioned that the night would be an overall victory for Republicans, predicting that they might “come very close to capturing control of the Senate.” He also cautioned that if re-elected, Obama’s presidency could result in a continuing stalemate with Congress.
"We have no evidence as of today that Barack Obama's capable of listening to anybody who doesn't agree with him,” Gingrich said before the election, adding that it might worsen “because the scandals are going to get bigger.”
In fact, Romney took only 48 percent of the popular vote and 206 electoral votes to Obama's 332.
In an opinion piece for Politico published on Monday, Gingrich sounded like a changed man as he encouraged disappointed Republicans to step back and reflect on the election. “We were wrong about the turnout. ... We were wrong about the makeup of the electorate,” he wrote. “The simple fact is Republicans spent more and achieved less than Democrats in 2012.”
“This was a party-wide defeat and should be thought of as a profound wake up call,” he continued. “For the conservative movement and the Republican Party to succeed in the future (and while they are not identical the two are inextricably bound together) we will have to learn the lessons of 2012. An intellectually honest and courageous Republican Party has nothing to fear from the current situation.”
After the election, reporters who covered the “mechanics” of Obama’s campaign for The New York Times described the innovative tactics Obama’s team deployed to boost turnout. Enlisting the help of a team of behavioral neuroscientists, the campaign built a database capable of tracking the thought patterns of millions of newly registered and undecided voters.
The database “allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances,” reported the NYT. The result evidently floored Mitt Romney -- who really expected to win -- on Election Night.
Gingrich, post-election, seemed intensely aware of just how effectively this strategy had worked, as he counseled Republicans to “think through the lessons of the gaps between our pre-election understanding and the Election Day realities.”
He described that project as more of long-term goal for conservatives and Republicans, something to be hopefully achieved in six months and not a week. “Only then can we develop a program for the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement,” he said.